Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Giants just run out of steam

The Belfast Giants can finish no higher than third in this season’s Elite League title race after a little shine was taken off Tuesday‘s Challenge Cup victory last night.

Defeat to the Nottingham Panthers means that Steve Thornton’s men must now beat Coventry Blaze on Saturday night and hope that Blaze then fail to win their final league game of the season in Newcastle on Sunday for the Giants to end up higher than fourth.

For a team that had designs on winning the league, fourth place finish would be a major disappointment, but three pieces of silverware could still land in Belfast which would soften the blow.

Expecting the Giants to produce another performance 24 hours after their high octane display in beating Manchester Phoenix was a big ask, but there was no sign of any hangover from the trophy celebrations.

Evan Cheverie netted on the powerplay just six minutes in as the Giants bandwagon kept on rolling from the final. And even when David Clarke levelled with exactly nine minutes gone there was no panic from the visitors.

Indeed that was the signal for the Giants to come on strong and within two minutes of that equaliser they were 3-1 ahead, with two goals arriving in the space of 35 seconds.

George Awada restored the lead from a Thornton assist and he then stretched the advantage going solo to beat Michael Robinson in the Panthers goal.

Nottingham got back into the game when Danny Myers narrowed the deficit three minutes into the second period, but it took a powerplay opportunity for them to get back onto level terms.

With three minutes of the second period to go, Malcolm MacMillan was deemed to be guilty of boarding and as if two minutes off the ice wasn’t punishment enough, Kevin Bergin scored to make it 3-3.

The goal that won the game for Nottingham arrived just two minutes into the final period when Brendan Cook fired home.

The Giants had nothing left to give after the high of the previous night, which was totally understandable.

Not finishing in the top three won’t be a disaster though as it will almost certainly ensure a Play-off quarter-final against the Cardiff Devils and thus avoiding facing Manchester six times in the space of ten games — they will instead hope that if there is another meeting it is on the Play-off finals weekend in early April.Giants just run out of steamHOLD TIGHT: Marc Levers grabs onto Belfast Giants’ Mike Burgoyne during last night’s battle with the Panthers. Diane DaveyTHE Belfast Giants can finish no higher than third in this season’s Elite League title race after a little shine was taken off Tuesday‘s Challenge Cup victory last night.

Defeat to the Nottingham Panthers means that Steve Thornton’s men must now beat Coventry Blaze on Saturday night and hope that Blaze then fail to win their final league game of the season in Newcastle on Sunday for the Giants to end up higher than fourth.

For a team that had designs on winning the league, fourth place finish would be a major disappointment, but three pieces of silverware could still land in Belfast which would soften the blow.

Expecting the Giants to produce another performance 24 hours after their high octane display in beating Manchester Phoenix was a big ask, but there was no sign of any hangover from the trophy celebrations.

Evan Cheverie netted on the powerplay just six minutes in as the Giants bandwagon kept on rolling from the final. And even when David Clarke levelled with exactly nine minutes gone there was no panic from the visitors.

Indeed that was the signal for the Giants to come on strong and within two minutes of that equaliser they were 3-1 ahead, with two goals arriving in the space of 35 seconds.

George Awada restored the lead from a Thornton assist and he then stretched the advantage going solo to beat Michael Robin

son in the Panthers goal.

Nottingham got back into the game when Danny Myers narrowed the deficit three minutes into the second period, but it took a powerplay opportunity for them to get back onto level terms.

With three minutes of the second period to go, Malcolm MacMillan was deemed to be guilty of boarding and as if two minutes off the ice wasn’t punishment enough, Kevin Bergin scored to make it 3-3.

The goal that won the game for Nottingham arrived just two minutes into the final period when Brendan Cook fired home.

The Giants had nothing left to give after the high of the previous night, which was totally understandable.

Not finishing in the top three won’t be a disaster though as it will almost certainly ensure a Play-off quarter-final against the Cardiff Devils and thus avoiding facing Manchester six times in the space of ten games — they will instead hope that if there is another meeting it is on the Play-off finals weekend in early April.

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